Sunday, January 11, 2009

Five best: books about high society

Meryl Gordon, author of Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach, compiled a list of the five best "chronicles of high society" for the Wall Street Journal.

One title to make her list:
Little Gloria . . . Happy at Last
By Barbara Goldsmith
Knopf, 1980

Hard to believe that a custody battle among the rich and famous in the 1930s would still prove riveting, but social historian Barbara Goldsmith's best-selling account of the fight over young Gloria Vanderbilt stands the test of time. For those who know Vanderbilt now primarily as the mother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, or vaguely remember her as the woman who launched the trend of socialite designer jeans, this book will be a revelation. It is a well-written tale of the cruelties inflicted on a famously wealthy and frightened child. Alternating between the two perpetrators -- Gloria's widowed, frivolous and financially strapped mother and her domineering aunt -- Goldsmith creates a suspense-filled saga as well as a richly reported portrait of society in a bygone era.
Read about another book on Gordon's list.

--Marshal Zeringue